Tags: Ban the Box


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The Iowa Senate has before it SF 2240, an effort to enact legislation commonly known as Ban the Box.  The bill would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about felony convictions and other criminal background questions at the application stage.  The Senate had planned on debating the bill this week, but for now the bill will not be debated. 

The Ban the Box movement has been gaining strength across the country.  As of early fall 2015, there were 19 states, including Nebraska, and 119 cities, and counties that have some form of restriction on using prospective employees’ criminal records during the hiring process. 

The restrictions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Some restrictions only apply to employment in the public sector, while some restrictions apply to both public and private sector employment.  Likewise, most restrictions contain criteria for when a criminal conviction may be legally used as a factor to disqualify a prospective employee.  In some jurisdictions, the employer may not inquire into criminal backgrounds until the interview, while some make it illegal to ask the question until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.  Ban the Box statutes generally do does not apply to law enforcement agencies or where state or federal law requires criminal background checks.    

At this point in time, there is no federal law that prohibits asking about criminal convictions.  But, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published what it considers best practices for asking criminal background questions. 

1. Eliminate general policies and practices that automatically excluded applicants based on criminal record (do not ask about criminal records on job applications);

2. Limit inquiries on criminal records to those type of convictions that are potentially job-related for the position in question and consistent with a business necessity;

3. Develop a narrowly-tailored written policy and procedure for screening applicants and employees that provides for individualized consideration of criminal history; and

4.  Train managers and hiring officials on how to implement the policy and procedures consistent with Title VII.

For more information contact Cesar Juarez at juarezc@goosmannlaw.com.


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